Elgin, the first city in Illinois to offer free curbside textile recycling, is renewing its contract with Simple Recycling to continue the service and promising to do more to educate residents about it.
Since Simple Recycling signed a contract with the city in 2017 to collect clothing, textiles, shoes, small appliances, and toys curbside at no cost to residents, more than 500,000 pounds of textiles and other materials have been kept out landfills, city officials said.
Before a decision was made on renewing the contract before it expires in March, the Elgin Sustainability Committee asked that a survey be conducted to see how many residents participated in the program and much they knew about the service.
Of the 606 people who responded to the survey, 75.9% said they had used the Simple Recycling textile recycling service. Nearly 50% said they were very satisfied with it and 13.7% were somewhat satisfied and 59% responding it’s likely they would recommend the service to a friend or colleague, survey results showed.
When asked what words they would use to describe the service, 32.3% of respondents said reliable, 72.7% said convenient and 60.2% said useful. Only 7% found it ineffective, according to the survey.
Some residents offered comments with the survey. Among them were things like, “Not marketed enough to residents. I completely forgot about it,” “Haven’t used,” “Wasn’t picked up on time,” “Did not know about it,” and “I live in Elgin and never heard about it until today.”
A lot of people commented they didn’t know the service was around or had issues with it.
“They did not come on a regular basis and I called them and they wouldn’t give me an answer when they would come,” one commenter said. “I still have an Orange bag in my garbage; if they would give a consistent day or week it would improve the service,” another person said. “The truck never picks up or drops off bags, even when requested by mail.”
Simple Recycling drivers pick up items on regularly scheduled garbage days, Elgin’s Communication Manager Molly Gillespie said. If no items are left out, the drivers finish the routes quickly, meaning some residents may have missed the pickup if it wasn’t out with their garbage by 6 a.m., she said.
Residents can request the special orange bags on the company’s website or at city hall, Gillespie said.
“I love the program,” Councilman Toby Shaw said. “I think it’s great. It’s innovative. It’s totally convenient.”
Simple Recycling doesn’t cost Elgin anything, and it even makes a few thousand dollars for the city, Shaw said. “I’m glad they were able to re-up.”
Councilman Corey Dixon encouraged the company and staff to do more marketing for the program.
Mayor Dave Kaptain pointed out that even with programs like Simple Recycling, there’s still a lot of materials that could be recycled.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” he said. “We should be very proud of what we did in Elgin.”